The Minister for Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Alfred Bosch, commented on a universal periodic review of Spain conducted today at a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Bosch called on the Spanish state to “put an end to serious violations of rights” and described today’s session as “the toughest grilling the Kingdom of Spain has faced on the subject of human rights”.
The minister said: “We’ve repeatedly warned that Spain must comply with the rulings of international bodies such as the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.” This is one of the matters included in a preparatory report produced by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report also expresses the UN’s concern over the police violence seen during the 1 October 2017 referendum and calls for “dialogue and respect for democratic freedoms” to resolve the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain.
“Today we’ve seen major countries like Germany, Italy, Belgium and the United States calling on Spain to respect freedom of expression and assembly,” said Bosch, who also mentioned the positions of countries like Switzerland and Ireland, which voiced concern over the use of force by security forces. Japan, for its part, urged Spain to act on the recommendations of United Nations bodies, while Venezuela called for a “constructive dialogue” with the Catalan people to be launched.
Bosch also made reference to stakeholder submissions made by civil society organisations concerning violations of human rights. Submissions were made by 89 organisations, a figure that is much higher than in previous reviews (26 in 2015 and 13 in 2010).
“This has been an important day for us, one when the countries of the world and the United Nations – through its agencies, the most important in the world in the field of human rights – have called on Spain to get down to business, to launch a dialogue; and for political dialogue to take the place of violations of rights,” said Bosch.
Repression of the independence movement
The summary of stakeholder submissions for the universal periodic review includes accounts of repression against the Catalan independence movement reported by International Trial Watch, EuroMed Rights, European Civic Forum, Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders, and Catalan organisations such as Òmnium Cultural. The report submitted by International Trial Watch covers the conduct of the state and police forces on 1 October 2017, complaints from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and the violation of the rights of defence of the prisoners during the referendum trial. Other organisations have made submissions to the UN concerning the case of young people from the Basque town of Altsasu who received lengthy jail sentences after a bar fight with off-duty Civil Guard officers, calls to move detained prisoners closer to their homes, regulation of asylum for migrants, and issues related to social protection, housing and health.